97th Birthday Of Grand Ole Opry, America’s Longest-Running Radio Show

The Grand Ole Opry celebrates its 97th birthday on October 8th, (tonight).

When I was a child on many a Saturday night the radio that always rested on the wooden buffet in the dining room would not only be turned on but equally importantly physically turned in such a fashion to best be able to hear WSM radio. The Grand Ole Opry was best able to be received in the cold months in our Hancock, Wisconsin home–as anyone who understands radio signals knows. It was always getting the radio in just the right location and also using the cord placement, that worked as an antenna, which allowed the nation’s longest-running radio show to fill our home with music and laughter.

I have been pleased to post many times about the music and the stars who have played such an important part in our country and also in my life. I have commented on their triumphs and felt sadness as they left us for the biggest stage of all. I have recalled the joys of attending the Opry and also being able to see some of those same ones perform in other venues where they were always content to let anyone who wanted to get an autograph or picture to do so. After all, as I was to learn from watching Porter Wagoner, Little Jimmy Dickens, or Charlie Louvin among others, the show was not really over until everyone had a personal memory to take home. They simply do not make entertainers like that anymore. My guitar attests to the truth of that statement with many signatures.

There is a richness that I carry with me from having had Saturday nights with the often scratchy signal from Nashville coming over the radio back home. Or telling ‘Whisperin’ Bill Anderson after a show, how as a kid, I used to impersonate him by standing on our picnic table in the backyard and pretending the garden hose was the microphone. Then came puberty and my country music career ended. I still see Bill laughing at that comment.

Many memories and thoughts will flood Americans around the nation as we celebrate this slice of Americana tonight when the big red curtain goes up at the Opry House. When trying to pick one song that sums up the mood and magic of the Opry over the decades I would opt for one of my favorite entertainers and singers who stood on the famed wooden circle. Not only would Roy Acuff, “The King Of Country Music” get people to tap their feet to the music but during the commercial breaks he would do tricks for the audience at the Opry House with his fiddle bow balanced on his nose or with his famed yo-yo tricks. He felt being an entertainer meant when one is on the stage they have a role to play. He played his part at the Opry with perfection for decades.

So Happy Birthday Grand Ole Opry! I add this audio of Roy and Minnie Pearl for the feel of the radio show. Truly awesome.

Woman Behind The Song “Still” Dies, Bill Anderson Standard

I ran across an interesting obituary that lands in the Caffeinated Politics Grand Ole Opry file. Best of all it connects with Bill Anderson, a decades-long favorite of your blogger.

Connie Ward Stewart died in Georgia on April 13, 2022.

Stewart was a lifelong educator, journalist, and campaign strategist, known as a trailblazer for women.

Connie worked at WSB-TV, married newscaster Don Stewart, and had one daughter, Sheri Lyn. She taught in Atlanta public schools and was faculty and Dir. of Orientation at UGA where she achieved racial diversity among the student Orientation Leaders. She was even the inspiration for the hit love song Still, as confirmed by country music writer/singer Bill Anderson. 

My New Doty Land Podcast: Tribute To Grant Turner, Classic Country Music Stars

Doty Land, my podcast, following a long hiatus due to truly swear-worthy technical issues and the pandemic which made it most difficult to have the equipment in our home worked on, is now back ‘on the air.’

Humbly written here, but I am mighty pleased with the 16-minute multi-track production which offers my sincere tribute to WSM radio announcer Grant Turner. I also offer my thoughts as to what essential quality the classic country singers had which then allowed for them to have such faithful fans many decades later.

You can hear Doty Land and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartradio, Spotify, Castro, and many other sites. Pandora and Amazon are the next sites I am working with that will be offering my podcast for your listening enjoyment.

You can also link here and head directly to my podcast page.

From memories of Loretta Lynn,  Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, WSM radio announcer Grant Turner and others this tribute looks at how classic country music still resonates across the land.  Heartfelt memories galore! Podcaster Gregory Humphrey takes listeners on a journey from his Hancock home to the stages of country music shows.  The fiddles are warming up, now.  

This project will not put me on the map, but it made me very happy if for no other reason than everything is working as the manufacturer of the studio equipment intended! Broadcasting and now its offshoots remains a great love of my life. Therefore, it was most rewarding to ramp up the production values for this episode. I admit to a few ‘bumps’ that perhaps my ear is more accustomed to discerning, but overall I am very content to offer this episode to the listening public.

Grandma Schwarz landed at this angle for the promo pic. As in radio days, I like to have photos of special people around as it makes for a more genuine type of conversation when recording. She seemed the one who would best connect with the topic of these recordings.

And so it goes.

Gregory Humphrey’s Tribute To Bill Anderson Makes Top Of Country Legend’s Website

Super pleased to find out tonight that my blog post this weekend on Bill Anderson made top billing on his website.

The country music legend celebrated 60 years on the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night. I wrote how I sang his songs as a boy while using the picnic table as a stage back home. And how my Aunt Evie, who lived next door, smiled about those ‘shows’ decades after the last one was performed.

Over time I have expressed how it felt when this little space on the intent highway has such a moment. Such as when the family of Porter Wagoner commented on my words following his passing, or the same type of interaction following the death of famed WSM announcer Grant Turner. In fact, my words about Turner are linked at the Tennessee Radio Hall Of Fame.

Tonight, I can say the picture below from Bill Anderson’s website tickles me completely and means more than money. After all, this has been a six-decade journey with smiles and memories still being made.

Bill Anderson Celebrates 60 Years On The Grand Ole Opry

It is not all politics here at Caffeinated Politics. This blog has always been home to the wide array of interests that make life delightful. From books, space, radio, and yes, the Grand Ole Opry. As such, it is time to post about Bill Anderson’s 60th anniversary this weekend at the Grand Ole Opry.

The Grand Ole Opry starts at 7 PM Central Time on WSM Radio, and don’t forget to catch Opry Live on Circle TV starting at 8PM Central Time.

Grand Ole Opry veteran Bill Anderson performs on the famed circle of wood at the center of the stage in the Grand Ole Opry House on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, in Nashville. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

I am not a fan of contemporary country music.  Too much of it is struggling to be more than just country, while in search of a broader audience.  For me, the classic country sound of many decades ago is where the tire meets the road.  It is one of the musical types I often gravitate to when putting music on the stereo.

As a child, I would impersonate Bill Anderson in the backyard at the family home.   The garden hose would be my microphone, and the picnic table the stage.  Aunt Evie who lived next door smiled about those ‘shows’ decades after the last one was performed. The thing is, as I always told her, I still knew all the words to those old songs.  They are just as fresh in my mind now as when they were played endlessly on my mom’s record player.  The fact is that I have found it easy to sing much like ‘Whispering Bill’ all my life.  In my late 20s and 30s, I had given up the picnic table circuit for karaoke shows, however. But that now, too, is in the rearview mirror.

I have been able to meet and talk with Bill Anderson on several occasions both in Wisconsin and in Nashville.  He is one of the Opry legends who have signed my guitar. And this weekend he gets his night in the limelight at the world famous Grand Ole Opry.

When in the third grade my parents had tickets to see Bill Anderson and his singing partner at the time, Jan Howard, in Waupaca.  As the show date approached I came down with the stomach flu.  My mom said we probably would need to miss the concert.  Somehow, someway the flu was put aside and we all attended.  It was Jan Howard that missed the show that night for being sick!

Many decades from now someone, somewhere will be singing a Bill Anderson song.  His legacy is as much from the words he penned as the performing artist he became.  So on behalf of a grateful nation, Caffeinated Politics wants to congratulate Bill Anderson on 60 years at the World-Famous Grand Ole Opry.

So let’s go back to a time when country music had flavor and spice.  Bill Anderson as a young man in a suit that sparkled, as he sings his standard “Bright Lights And Country Music”.  At the end of each performance at the Grand Ole Opry Anderson leaves the stage with a line from this song.

This weekend will be no different.

Jan Howard, Lady From The Ozarks, Is Now Singing On The Biggest Stage


The Grand Oe Opry family lost another member today with the death of Jan Howard.

She was not only an independent voice in her own right, with many recordings, but also was one of the classic country ladies along with Jean Shepherd, Skeeter Davis, and others who would band together and make music from the world-famous stage in Nashville Tennessee.


bill and jan

When I was in the third grade my parents had tickets to see Bill Anderson, and his then singing partner Jan Howard, when they were to do a concert in Waupaca Wisconsin. I was going through a severe bout of the flu, and there were real concerns whether or not I could attend the show. But there was a miraculous recovery and I was there in the bleachers to watch, but it was Jan Howard who had come down with the flu and missed the concert!

I did not see her that night but many years later at the world-famous stage of the Grand Ole Opry, I saw Howard, along with the full array of performers.  Tonight she is with so many other legends on the largest stage ever.

Stormy Daniels Is Not An American Hero–Dane County Notwithstanding

Can you imagine what Bess Truman would have said or done had President Harry Truman been caught up in a web of the kind we now hear about daily concerning Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump?  Some of my readers are now asking, “What?”

Let me explain.

For several days I have thought about how to address the news that Daniels was ‘performing’ just outside of Madison.  I had thought about just not mentioning it at all on my blog.  Though she is front and center in a legal battle with Trump, I also find the entire episode so far removed from the norms of the history I read and love that not mentioning her seemed the appropriate road to take.

Until I read the write up of her Middleton appearance in the Sunday edition of the Wisconsin State Journal. 

Those who turned out to see her–of both sexes–made her seem to be something of a hero, or an icon.    A man attended the show on the day of his 33rd wedding anniversary, so to let Daniels make more money to further challenge Trump.  I am simply stunned by the reaction from my fellow Dane County citizens to this woman.

So on this slow-paced Sunday my mind reflects on Bess Truman.  I know it sounds old-fashioned, out-of-step, hokey, and dare I say, conservative.  And that is just fine.  But for all my life–and yours too–there have been certain guardrails to our politics.  Our frothy and robust politics bumped up against them but the norms of the nation pushed back and the center again was the driving lane,   Truman comes to mind as she can be defined as the middle-of-the road commoner which used to be the way the majority of the citizenry could also be labeled.   And that was a positive thing.

But now as the newspaper story detailed, a woman at the Daniels show paid $100 to—and I will leave it there.   My fellow citizens paid money to see someone who slept with a would-be president–who at the time of the sexual encounter was a married man with a newborn child at home.   Surely we can not have slid so far into the ditch that we have now elevated porn stars to the level of heroes.   But if one reads the newspaper account that is, indeed, where we have landed.

That we have drifted so far from the moorings of our historical past is mighty concerning.  Too few care about it, too few talk about it.  But every single day we are drifting further from the shore, and it seems for many it is just a carefree trip.  Until we hit the iceberg.

Bill Anderson Recalls Last Time With Jim Ed Brown While Presenting Hall Of Fame Medallion

Country music star, and Grand Ole Opry legend Bill Anderson wrote what took place just a week ago, shortly before the death of singer Jimmy Ed Brown.  This is mighty touching and well worthy of a read.


Photo of Jim Ed Brown, Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson

I was standing barefoot in my kitchen last Thursday morning shortly after 10:30 when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, so I let it go to voice mail. I was in the midst of enjoying a lazy morning. I hadn’t combed my hair, gotten dressed, or even eaten breakfast. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for 2:30 in the afternoon, but figured I would just kick back until it was time to get ready for that.

My phone beeped, and I knew whoever called had left a message. I punched in my code and heard a familiar voice.

“Bill, this is Kyle Young down at the Hall of Fame. Would you call me as soon as you get this? I need to speak with you. It’s important.” I immediately got him on the phone.

“Did you get my letter last week telling you that Jim Ed Brown and The Browns have requested that you be the one to induct them into the Hall of Fame in October?” he asked. I assured him that I had, and that I considered it an honor and a privilege to have been asked.

“Well, as you probably know, Jim Ed is not doing well at all. His cancer has come back, and the doctors have told us he might not make it through the weekend. We want to go out to the hospital at one o’clock today and present him with his Hall of Fame Medallion. Can you go?”

I was stunned. I looked at the clock. I knew I’d have to shave, shower, get dressed, and drive about 45-minutes to the hospital. I’d be cutting it close, but, yes, I said I could be there. I knew if the situation were reversed, Jim Ed would be there for me.

I also knew how much their having been voted membership in the Hall of Fame meant to Jim Ed and to his sisters, Maxine and Bonnie. It had been a long time coming, and they had almost given up hope. I had already been looking forward to seeing the expression on Jim Ed’s face when I put that Medallion around his neck. I just never imagined it would be in June or that he would be in a hospital bed.

There weren’t more than fifteen people in the room. Jim Ed’s wife, Becky; his daughter, Kim; Pete Fisher from the Opry, Sarah Trahern, Executive Director of the Country Music Association; Kyle Young and some of his staff from the Hall; Kirt Webster, Jim Ed’s publicist; Lee Willard, my manager; a few close friends, a couple of nurses, and me. Nobody had told J. E. that we were coming, and he was totally shocked when we all walked in.

Kyle told him why we were there, and in keeping with tradition, he read aloud a short biography of The Browns. Then he read another bio of Jim Ed, highlighting the fact that he had enjoyed three different careers in his lifetime….as one-third of The Browns, as a duet partner with Helen Cornelius, and as a solo act on his own. Kyle reminded us of hit records like “The Three Bells,” “I Don’t Want To Have To Marry You,” and “Pop-A-Top.” He told of Jim Ed entering a talent contest as a youngster and losing out to a harmonica player. Everybody laughed.

Then he turned to me and handed me Jim Ed’s Medallion, the official emblem certifying Hall of Fame membership. I leaned in close and reminded Jim Ed that one Hall of Fame member always inducts another, and how honored I was that he and his sisters had chosen me to do the induction for them.

Jim Ed sat up a little straighter in the bed and removed the ball cap that he had been wearing. I said in a halting voice: “Jim Ed, on behalf of the membership of the Country Music Association, it’s my pleasure and privilege to welcome Jim Ed Brown and The Browns to your rightful place in the Country Music Hall Of Fame.” I slipped the ribbon over his head and watched as he proudly lay the Medallion itself on his chest. There was not a dry eye in the room.He thanked everybody in his very weak voice and said again what a thrill it was. “I had almost decided this was never going to happen, and I told myself it was all right. I had had a pretty good run. But this means more to me than you’ll ever know.”

I don’t know what made me do it, but suddenly I started singing, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” there at the head of his bed. Everyone in the room joined in, just as we do on Medallion Night at the Hall of Fame each year. Jim Ed was even mouthing the words. It was sad, but somehow it seemed fitting.

As the people began to say their goodbyes and drift out of the room, Jim Ed told Kirt Webster he wanted to ask me a question. I walked back to his side.

“Do you think I’ll be able to sing again when I get to heaven?” he asked weakly. “Because I sure can’t sing now.”

I was taken back by his question. I thought a minute and said, “Well, Jim Ed, if you can’t sing, just send word to me and I’ll loan you my ‘whisper’!” He smiled.

And then I added, “But you’ll have to watch Dickens. He’ll try to drown you out.”

I think the thought of seeing his old friend again stirred something special inside Jim Ed. He looked up at me and broke into a grin. Then the grin turned into a chuckle. And then the chuckle turned into a belly laugh. He finally got to laughing so hard that tears were running down his cheeks. He said, ” ‘Tater would do that, wouldn’t he?” I nodded, and he reached for my arm. I squeezed his hand, told him I loved him, and I turned away.

I wanted to remember him laughing.